New York City in the 1850s

1850: Bird's Eye View of New York City

An aerial perspective above Manhattan, showing the rapid change of the city’s shore, skyline and developing landscape.

1850: Busy Scene at The South Street Seaport

A Busy Wharf Scene (area to which a ship may be moored to load and unload) at The South Street Seaport (the first pier in the area appeared in 1625 by the Dutch West India Company).

1850: Bowling Green Park

Bowling Green is the oldest public park (formerly, there was a turf present for playing lawn bowling) and surrounded by the oldest fence in New York City. The land on which the park sits was sacred for the Lenape Indians, where council fires were held and social meetings took place.

1855: City Hall, Manhattan

A photograph of Manhattan’s City Hall in 1855

1858: Looking South from Chatham Square

Lithograph of New York City’s Chatham Square in 1858

1857: Jefferson Market at 6th Avenue

An illustrative engraving of the original Market on 6th Avenue.

1855: George Washington Monument at Union Square

A group gathered around the then-new monument of George Washington in Union Square. The bronze statue was dedicated in 1856 and is the oldest sculpture in any New York City Park. The monument was more frequently a rendezvous point for unemployed actors in the 1850s and 1860s.

1855: Broadway and Vesey Street Looking South

Watercolor Illustration of Broadway and Vesey Street Looking South.

1850: Open Air Clothing Market in New York City

An open air clothing market in New York City (the birthplace of the clothing and fashion industries in America).

1855: Broadway and Broome Street

The East side of Broadway and Broome Street looking North, capturing the hum and activity of downtown Manhattan during a cold winter.

1855: Brownstones on Fifth Avenue

View of a residential neighborhood along New York’s Fifth Avenue. Rows of single-family brownstones with grand front stoops line the wide corridor and newly planted trees.

1855: St. Germain Hotel on Fifth Avenue

A view of the St. Germain Hotel on the North East Corner of 5th Avenue between 22nd and 23rd Streets (future site of The Flatiron Building).

1855: The Palisades, Hudson River and Yonkers

View overlooking the Palisades, Hudson and Yonkers dockyard with railroad tracks which ran parallel to the Hudson River .

1855: Washington Square Park

Group portrait of men, women & children gathered in front of the fountain in Washington Square Park. In 1797, the land was purchased for a public burial ground and used mainly for burying unknown or indigent people until 1826.

1859: The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art

The Cooper Union was founded in 1859 by Peter Cooper, who was a successful entrepreneur and inventor. His dream was to give young people a good education which was “open and free to all”.

New York City Before 10,000 BC

A Visual History of Mannahatta to New Amsterdam up to Present Day.

Learn about NYC’s fascinating past and explore the natural forces that shaped the environment and landscape, along with the people who would transform the “Island of Many Hills” into the greatest and most influential city in the world.

Curated by Fine Print NYC

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